Steven Weiner, Computer Specialist and Aesthetic Realism associate, writes:
If you are a person who wants to understand yourself—
If you are a person who wants to understand the big subject of imagination and be proud of how you use imagination—
If you hope to make sense of seriousness and lightness, grandeur and smallness, importance and triviality in the world and your life—
Read “Imagination, & Humanity’s Pettiness & Might,” the great new issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
We continue serializing the great lecture Imagination—It Gathers, which Eli Siegel gave on June 9, 1971. As we publish the 4th section, I am very glad to state again this fact, so important for the life of every person, and for how our nation and the world itself fare: There are, Aesthetic Realism has shown, two kinds of imagination, one good and one bad. Good imagination, though it may be ever so wild, though it may deal with ugliness, always arises from respect for the world. Bad imagination arises from contempt, which Mr. Siegel described as the “disposition in every person to think we will be for ourselves by making less of the outside world.”
All imagination, whether in art or life, consists of a particular mind doing something with what it meets, the outside world. And having contempt for the world is the sleaziest, stupidest, meanest thing a person can do, though it’s immensely popular. Contempt is the beginning of every human cruelty.
In the present lecture, Mr. Siegel speaks about something he shows is central in imagination: gathering, the bringing of things together. And an urgent (also lovely) question for everyone is: how do we bring things together in our minds—respectfully or contemptuously?
In Our Lives
One reason the subject of gathering matters so much is that there’s a terrific tendency in people to keep aspects of their lives apart. Millions of people have a different self when they’re with, say, their relatives, from the self they show their co-workers; then, another self with their friends; a different one still with their “significant other.” And they have a self unseen by anyone, which is just theirs, regal and alone. We divide rather than join aspects of our lives because, for one thing, we don’t know how to join them—but also because we feel we can manage people better that way. Something in us feels, without articulating it, that if we relate the aspects and people in our life and are one unified self with them all, we’ll be pinned down, not have the power we want. Yet this division makes us feel agitated, empty, ashamed. Read more